When the verdict in the Delhi gang rape case was being delivered, the house of accused Akshay Thakur in Karma Leheng village in Bihar’s Aurangabad district was facing a power cut. His family was hardly eager about to hear the judgment, having no expectations of relief from the court.

“My son is innocent. I am fully confident of that. Take all our property and belongings, but just give me back my son,” said Akshay’s distraught mother Malti Devi broke down when told about the verdict. Her relentless pleas have taken the form of hysteria. Family members dis their best to console her in vain. On the eve of the verdict, she fainted from exhaustion.

Tension and distress is writ large on everyone’s faces at Akshay’s house. No one would believe that the 28-year-old youth, who never gave them any cause to complain, could ever be involved in the crime.

“He was at home on December 16. The government should give him back to us in a fit condition, just the way we handed him over to the police. We will fight till the end, even if we have to sell all that we own,” Malti Devi said.

“He has been framed,” said his wife Punita Devi. “They took him away to interrogate and then arrested him. He said he is innocent and will be saved. I think he will come back. I just want my husband back,” she said as tears welled up in her eyes. The couple’s two-year-old son Priyanshu is too little to understand why the house is plunged in sorrow, why his grandmother cries uncontrollably and his mother sits like a statue.

Refuting the claims of the police of conducting raids and searches in the village to arrest Akshay, the family said they had handed Akshay over to the police owing to tremendous pressure.

“I took him to the police station along with the chowkidar. They wanted to question him. And now he has not come back, “Akshay’s father Sarju Singh said.

“Jo hua so ho gaya [What has happened has happened],” he sighed. Mr. Singh was the picture of defeat. A poor labourer, he had raised three sons, among whom Akshay was the youngest.

When he heard of the conviction, words deserted him. “I don’t want to talk about anything right now. We have been living in hell for the last eight months. The whole house is in gloom. Only we know how we have been surviving all this while. I am hurt very badly,” he managed to say.

Since the arrest, the family has been seeing a steady stream of media persons coming to ask about Akshay and the crime he is linked to. “But no one is taking our side,” said his relative Sanjay Singh. “You ask anyone in the village, he was no trouble at all. The village is with us. Why would the family hand him over if they wanted to play foul? The police could at least have acknowledged that instead of laying about arresting him. We turned him in with a lot of trust. But it went against us. God is watching,” he said.

The family’s house could be counted among the better structures in the village, but it belies their poor condition. “Everyone see this house and thinks we are well to do, but we work as labourers,” said his older brother Vinay Singh, who himself works as a labourer in Gurgaon.

Akshay himself had barely left home for two months and had been working on that fateful bus as bus conductor, when the December 16 incident took place.

Family and villagers believed he could have got involved with bad company and therefore got linked to the crime.

“He was a simple person from a simple family. From his behaviour no one here thinks he could have done the crime. He kept to himself, never messed with anybody. There was no complaint against him at the police station or in the panchayat. It is possible he came under the influence of wrong people,” a village resident who did not wish to be named said.

On Wednesday, the family is in for another blow when the court pronounces the sentence. Poor and illiterate, they do not have the means to explore their legal options. They don’t know for how long Malti Devi’s cries will fill the house.

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